No One Told Me Having a Big Kid Is Harder Than Having a Baby

No One Told Me Having a Big Kid Is Harder Than Having a Baby

One mom confesses why she felt like having a baby was a breeze compared to raising a big kid.

By: Maria Mora

I'll tell you a secret, new moms. Having a baby is tedious, but it’s nothing compared to parenting a big kid. All those feeding schedules, sleepless nights, and endless piles of diapers might take up your time and energy, but at least they’re straightforward.

New parents can take classes and read books. There are mommy groups and playgroups and you can even observe other parents in action at the local park. Sure, every mom adopts her own personal parenting style, but the choices are pretty limited. She'll breastfeed or bottle feed. She'll co-sleep or cry it out. She'll use cloth diapers or buy disposables. Yes, new moms have dozens of questions, but the answers are often just a phone call away, thanks to the pediatrician.

But big kids don’t follow any sort of rulebooks. Big kids have strong opinions, ask complicated questions, and are small, complex people instead of cute lumps of baby. The answers to big-kid-parenting questions aren’t straightforward, and the problems aren’t black and white. Big kids change everything you thought you knew about being a mother.

Having an 8-year-old is terrifying, and no one ever told me it would be this hard.

I don't know what to say when my kid asks me what happens when people die. I don't know how to shield him from the heartbreak of not fitting in. I don't know how to let go and let him make his own mistakes.

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The babies at Mommy and Me class didn’t interact with one another. And 8-year-olds don’t just interact. They fight and judge and band together to find new ways to misbehave. And oh, do they misbehave. Babies don’t need to be disciplined. Big kids must be disciplined, and if you do it wrong, you could be in for a decade of bad choices. The rules of appropriate time-outs are so much harder to enforce than the rules of introducing solid foods.

I wouldn’t give up this stage of childhood for anything, but it blows my mind every day how challenging it is. All those sleepless nights did nothing to prepare me for struggling with homework and handling snarky attitudes.


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But I’ll tell you another secret, new moms. Those 8-year-olds still look like newborn angels when they’re sleeping. It’s then, at night when everything is quiet, that you can whisper the same sweet sentiments you crooned to your swaddled baby. It’s then, at the end of the day, that you can resolve to have a better tomorrow -- to learn more on your parenting journey.

Maria Mora is a single mom, editor, and hockey fanatic. She lives with her two sons in Florida.

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